NFL players seem to have a penchant for getting in trouble. An embarrassing black eye on the league in general, far too many players have run ins with the law each year, especially in the offseason. Player arrests happen often enough that ProFootballTalk has their own police blotter which also counts the number of days since an arrest has occurred.
Roger Goodell has taken a tough approach to discipline since he became commissioner in 2006, bolstering an already stringent personal conduct policy and handing down some pretty severe suspensions to several players. But for some reason, players just don’t seem to be getting the message.
Guys like Josh Gordon and Justin Blackmon served suspensions only to turn around and get in trouble again. Both are supremely talented and have the opportunity to become great NFL players and earn huge contracts. So why do they choose to put themselves in bad situations, repeatedly?
It’s hard for us fans to understand, but it continues to happen. We often lose sight of the fact that these are young men who like to have fun just as we did when we were their age. Plus, they have a lot more money than most of us did. I can only imagine how much trouble I might have gotten in had I had millions of dollars in my early 20’s.
So what can the league and teams do to curtail this behavior? Harsh punishment isn’t working. The rookie symposium may or may not be having an effect. Teams like the Ravens do their best to draft and sign guys who have good character, interviewing them and diving into their pasts.
The ugly truth is, talent always trumps everything else. Guys like Gordon and Blackmon will get several chances before teams give up on them because they are so dominant on the field. A lesser talent would be cut and out of the league in seconds. Teams simply give longer leashes to these guys, whether that’s wrong or right.
Some say that cutting players is the way to fix the problem, and sometimes that may work. Maybe suspensions work. In the case of Justin Blackmon, it only gave him time away from the team (good influence) to be around “friends” (bad influence) that contributed to his current suspension.
Football and the leaders on NFL teams are often strong and positive influences for young men who may not have had the benefit of growing up with any. Football players, just like everyone else, are raised in a variety of environments. Some will grow up and be successful, others will be ruined by their experiences.
Ultimately, the Ravens are a team that tries to do everything right. They have a strong coaching staff that preaches responsibility, and they (typically) only draft guys with strong character. They took a chance on Jimmy Smith, and he kept his nose clean for four years until Saturday night.
The question remains, should teams do more in light of this behavior? Would team imposed punishment like fines or suspensions do any good, or should they just cut a guy at some point? These are questions that deserve to be answered. One thing is for sure, and that is change will likely continue to happen until arrests are no longer a normal occurrence in the NFL.
What do you think should be done to reduce player arrests?
Tags: Baltimore Ravens